By Victor Skinner
AUGUSTA, Maine – Toll worker Linda Anthony wants out of the Maine State Employees Association, but when she filed a grievance for non-representation other union members heckled her and allegedly put nails in her tires.
“I’ve worked in a hostile workplace for over a year,” Anthony told Maine lawmakers Monday during a hearing of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Committee, according to the Morning Sentinel. “I can never terminate MSEA from being my agent under present law.”
Anthony was among numerous supporters of two right-to-work bills introduced by Rep. Lawrence Lockman that would prohibit mandatory union membership as a condition of employment, and eliminate automatic payroll deductions for union dues, the news site reports.
“Simply put, workers should not be coerced into paying for services they don’t want and didn’t ask for,” Lockman said.
Union officials and their sponsored lawmakers in Maine are making the same weak case for preserving compulsory unionism as their counterparts in other states that have recently approved right-to-work laws.
“The union represents all employees who share that community of interest, and is required to represent everyone in the bargaining unit, including nonmembers,” union attorney Tim Belcher wrote in testimony submitted to committee members.
That’s not true. Union leaders insist on having exclusive representation rights to all employees in a particular workplace. They have no legal responsibility to maintain their burden.
The proposed right-to-work bills – which would impact private and public unions – would exempt unions from representing non-members, but Democratic state Sen. Troy Jackson contends the change would create freeloaders.
Those who “sit back and say, ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme,’ would get the best deal,” he said, according to news reports.
During the contentious committee hearing, several lawmakers and others who testified took jabs at each other regarding the merits of right-to-work laws and the connection between union campaign contributions and support for the legislation.
Independent state Rep. James Campbell, for example, was among the most vocal critics of right-to-work and received a quarter of all his financial support during the 2012 election from union political action committees, the Morning Sentinel reports.
If the legislation is approved, Maine would become the 25th right-to-work state and the first in New England.
Gov. Paul LePage supports the legislation, but we suspect that union-friendly Democratic majorities in Maine’s House and Senate will make sure workers continue to contribute to their unions, whether they want to or not.